By next spring the muddy hole behind Kwiat Eye and Laser Surgery will be a $1 million ambulatory ophthalmic surgery center.
The project officially began Sept. 17. Dr. David Kwiat says he’ll be performing cataract surgery in the 5,000-square-foot facility by May.
“This is a win for our patients and for Montgomery County,” he said over one of his rare two-minute breaks Wednesday afternoon.
Since Kwiat Eye moved to the current building on Holland Circle Drive in Amsterdam last year, the business has outgrown its square footage.
Kwiat travels to Latham to perform roughly 550 cataract surgeries each year. Once a month he does laser eye surgeries in the current office using equipment that’s shipped in for the day.
“We just don’t have room for all the equipment,” said chief of operations Ernie Belanger.
The new Mohawk Valley Eye Surgery Center will provide the necessary space for all the newest equipment, allowing Kwiat to provide every type of surgery from cataract to plastic to laser, all in the same place at any time.
“People won’t have to travel to find themselves in a world-class surgery center,” Belanger said.
Right now the nearest eye surgery center is 35 miles away in Latham, which can be a problem for some patients.
“Amsterdam is an aging population,” Kwiat said, remarking that the area is medically underserved. “To ask a senior to drive a 70-mile round trip plus have surgery is sort of a big deal.”
Kwiat is part of a nationwide movement from eye surgeries being conducted in conventional hospitals to specialized private eye surgery centers.
“The only thing we’ll be doing in the building is eye surgery,” he said, “Much like a professional athlete, wouldn’t you want a team that is very good at a single thing?”
According to Belanger, a private surgery center is unencumbered by other disciplines and can thus keep up with current skills and technology. He even said a specialized center like the new facility will be able to perform better surgeries at nearly half the cost of a conventional hospital through efficiency.
As a private center, Kwiat is funding the $1 million build by himself, though he said certain programs to cut his property tax bill were open to him.
“I wanted to give back to the community,” he said, “and I wanted to do it right — without asking to community to help.”
With the new center will come at least 10 new high-paying, high-skill jobs. Belanger said patients will be drawn from the surrounding area as well, which will help business on the Market Street strip.
“This speaks directly to [Kwiat’s] confidence in the area and in its future growth,” he said.